Watching the Watchers

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I may have mentioned that I decided to have several of my heats and my two solos from the last Showcase videoed.  Well, the video arrived.  Another angst inducing little envelope filled with the evidence of the dancer I am vs the dancer I think I should be.

I have not been able to bring myself to watch more than a few heats plus the two solos.  First impression is that things on the video seem so slow.  The Quickstep was fast but, on the video, it really loses the perception of speed.  Same was true for the Viennese Waltz.  Have no idea why that would be.  I guess the positive thing is that dances that felt a little out of control didn’t come across as out of control.

The other fun thing was watching the background of the two solos.  Yeah, you didn’t think I was going to be able to focus just on me did you.  For the Quickstep, we do these silly little Egyptian poses with Kid T behind my back so you just see her arms.  The camera caught the judges behind us and I could see the smiles as we walked out in costume and did the little arm things.  For the West Coast, the camera also caught other folks from my studio so I got to see people intently watching me dance which was a little strange.  I did see several smiles so I take it they enjoyed it.

But rather than focus on all the perceived bad stuff, I guess I should force myself to say what I liked.  As usual with me, it isn’t a simple answer.  I’d say there was an ease to the movements.  Some parts of the Quickstep were a little frantic but most of it was just kind of natural looking.  The steps flowed nicely from one to the next with no awkward transitions or pauses.

If anything, it was almost too casual.  I could also see what they mean about dancing bigger.  I do tend to blend in and I think taking up more space and maybe finding a way to add some drama to some of the moves would be a good thing.  I suspect it is really just taking the solos and applying them to the regular dances.  It is all performing in some way.  The heats just don’t have special costumes and there are other couples on the floor but the dance itself has a story to tell and that’s what I need to do a better job of capturing.  And I need to do something with my face.  I could now understand why the one judge wanted me to smile more.  Sometimes, it was clear I was having fun but maybe not all the time.  I know there is still technique to work on but I guess I also learned that I need to start working more on presence.  Which probably comes with more confidence and that is just something that takes time.

I’ve got something else to say but I’m not really sure if I’m going to find the right words.  I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite quotes is “Its not who you are that holds you back it is who you think you’re not.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve written before about natural talent vs learned skill.  I tend to think of dancing as both.  Anyone can learn to dance but you can see differences among people who’ve been taking lessons for similar lengths of time.   So those who have some natural talent will generally progress farther and faster provided they continue to work and develop the skill.

When I’ve said I’m a dancer, I’ve meant that in the context that I’ve been taught to dance.  What I’ve tended to assume about myself is that it is really just the years of lessons that have gotten me to where I am.  Now, I feel that is limiting and selling myself short.  Not everything comes easy to me but I find in group classes that I’m “getting things” much quicker than others even in dances I haven’t done before.  Peabody is a perfect example of that.  I had never done it until one group class but it just kind of clicked for me.

This will take a bit to sink in and I do still tend to fight it.  When I get comments about hips or other things moving, my first mental response tends to still be “well that’s not me”.  Had a reaction like that last week when Kid T rolled out the little formation we are supposed to do at Showstoppers.  The beginning is all Lindy Hop stuff and I don’t do Lindy.  There’s a lot of kicking and rotating and other stuff that just felt weird and awkward and my little mental voice was telling me it was OK not to try that hard because Lindy just isn’t my dance.  Even when I got it, I still found a way to sabotage my own victory by saying something about how I only got it because it wasn’t yet up to speed.

So here’s the mind shift part.  There really isn’t anything they’ve thrown at me that I haven’t been able to do.  Sure, some things are better than others but there is nothing that totally confounds me.  So, I must have some level of natural ability for this as well.  And, if that is true, then I can’t use those excuses because they are just giving me reasons to accept failure or accept less than my best.

Yeah, I’m a dancer.  I was born to do this.  Bring on the Lindy, I can handle it.



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